Karonda

Carissa carandas

Herbs gallery - Karonda

Common names

  • Bengal Currant
  • Karamardaka
  • Karonda

Karonda (scientific name Carissa carandas) is a flowering shrub belonging to the dogbane family called Apocynaceae. This shrub bears small fruits akin to the size of berries that are widely used in the form of a condiment, especially in Indian spices and pickles. Plants of this species are resilient and can tolerate drought conditions. They are able to thrive in an assortment of soils.

In fact, two invented varieties - paucinervia and congesta - denote a related species called conkerberry (Carissa spinarum). This plant species is an unkempt, rank-growing, timbered, climbing shrub that normally grows up to a height of anything between 3 meters and 5 meters. At times, it is found to be even reaching the apex of tall trees. This plant contains elevated amounts of whitish latex, which is gummy in nature. This shrub produces copious spreading branches, thereby forming thick masses. Karonda plants also have sharp thorns, which may be simple or forked and measure up to 5 cm. These thorns appear in pairs in the leaf axils.

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The leaves of the karonda shrub are evergreen, elliptical or oval, arranged opposite to each other and measure anything between 2.5 cm and 7.5 cm in length. The leaves of karonda shrub are deep green, glossy and leathery on the top surface, while on the underside, they are pale green and dull. This shrub bears fragrant flowers, having a tubular shape and each flower comes with five hairy lobes that are warped towards the left inside the bud, rather than to the right - which is seen in most other plant species. The flowers are white and usually having a pinkish tinge. The blooms of karonda appear in clusters at the branch terminals and each cluster comprises anything between 2 and 12 small flowers.

The fruits of karonda are small and also appear in clusters, with each cluster comprising anything between three and ten berry-like fruits. The fruits are round, broad-ovoid or oblong and each measure anything between 1.25 cm and 2.5 cm in length. While the purplish-red outer skin of these fruits is somewhat thin initially, their color changes to black on ripening. When ripe, these fruits become smooth and have a shine. Inside, the juicy pink or red pulp of the fruit is usually bitter, extremely to mildly acidic, which exude latex flecks. Each fruit contains anything between two and eight small, even, brownish seeds.

Parts used

Fruits, bark, leaves, roots.

Uses

The karonda (Carissa carandas) fruit possesses astringent and aniscorbutic properties; it also serves as a cure for biliousness. In other words, this fruit is effective for treating poor digestion, constipation and stomach pain. In addition, it is also wonderful for treating anemia. This karonda fruit is also employed for treating various skin complaints.

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People have been conventionally using the fruit of karonda for treating insanity and anorexia. A decoction prepared from the leaf of this plant is employed as a remedy for diarrhea, fever and earache. The karonda roots also possess stomachic properties, besides being used as an anthelmintic medicine for treating itches. The roots are also used as insect repellents.

The karonda fruit is loaded with iron and, hence, is an excellent source of this essential mineral. As a result, this fruit is sometimes employed for treating anemia. In addition, the fruit also encloses reasonable levels of vitamin C, hence, often used in the form of an antiscorbutic.

The raw, immature karonda fruit possesses astringent properties and, hence, it is used therapeutically. The decoction prepared from the leaf of this plant is also valued for its effectiveness in treating diarrhea, intermittent fever, earache and oral infection. The root of the plant is also used in the form of a vermifuge and bitter stomachic. It is also an important ingredient in medicines used for treating itches.

The mature karonda fruit is picked for making pickles. When mature, this fruit contains pectin and, hence, it is a useful element for preparing syrup, jam, jelly and chutney. When the ripened fruit is severed from the boughs, it gives out whitish gum-like latex.

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The roots of karonda are branched profusely, which is helpful to keep the plant in place even when it grows on slopes that are eroding.

Culinary uses

People in Asia use the ripened karonda (Carissa carandas) fruits for a number of culinary purposes. They use these fruits to make curries, chutney, puddings, and also tarts. Slightly under ripe fruits are used for making jellies. On the other hand, people in India use the sour, green fruits to make pickles. The karonda plants start yielding fruits from the third year of their existence. Aside from their culinary uses, karonda plants are also excellent for use as natural fencing.

Ripened karonda fruits enclose elevated amounts of pectin and, hence, they are ideal for making jam, jelly, syrup, squash and chutney, in addition to making pickles. All these food items are in high demand in the international market.

The sweeter variety of karonda fruits can be directly consumed raw. However, fruits that are more acidic are excellent for being stewed by adding lots of sugar. Nevertheless, the skin of karonda fruit may be real tough and somewhat bitter.

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When cooked, the karonda fruit emanates a great deal of gum-like latex, but soon the rich red juice turns lucid and much of this juice is used for making beverages. In Florida, a few soda-fountain operators have successful used this syrup, albeit in a small scale. On the other hand, people in Asia use the ripened karonda fruits for making curries, chutney, puddings and tart. In India, the sour, green fruits are used to make pickle. After peeling the skin and removing the seeds, the flesh of the fruit is seasoned by adding sugar and cloves. This preparation is a very popular substitute for apples in tarts. In India, British residents relished the ripened karonda as it made them remind of gooseberries back at home in England.

Habitat and cultivation

Karonda grows well in all places having tropical and sub-tropical climatic conditions across the globe. However, it needs to be mentioned here that this plant is unable to endure too much rain as well as waterlogged conditions. As far as soil conditions are concerned, this plant can be cultivated on various soil types, including sodic and saline soils.

Usually, karonda is propagated from seeds. However, there are several other ways of growing this plant, including stem cutting and air layering. They are, however, not used very commonly. Ideally, karonda seeds are sown anytime between August and September and when the seedlings are a year old, they are picked carefully and transplanted in their permanent place of growth. Although propagating Carissa carandas is generally successful, it is always advisable to undertake this process at the start of monsoon. The rooted layers of the young plants can be divided about three months of beginning the layering process.

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It is worth mentioning here that karonda plants are better suited to endure cold compared to Carissa. In the Philippines, these plants grow at altitudes between the sea level and 600 meters above sea level. However, in the Himalayan region, these plants are found thriving even at an altitude of 1,800 meters. Similar to Carissa, the main requirement of karonda is total exposure to sun light.

In Florida, karonda has a vigorous growth, especially when grown on limestone or sand. Similarly, this plant is found growing in the wild in India even on the rockiest and poorest soils. On several occasions, karonda is grown in the form of a hedge plant, especially in arid, sandy and even rocky soils. However, this plant is very fruitful when it is grown on fertile, deep and well-drained soil. On the other hand, when grown in excessively wet soil, the plant will have abundant vegetative growth, but its fruit production will be poor.

Usually, people prefer propagating karonda from its seed, as it has been found that stem cuttings rarely root readily. Some experiments in propagating this plant by stem cuttings from mature karonda plants in India have shown that the cuttings may not develop roots at all. Moreover, the experiments showed that about 20 percent hardwood cuttings taken from trimmed hedges developed roots towards the end of September, 20 percent of them rooted in the beginning of October, 30 percent towards the end of October and 50 percent of them in the beginning of November. In all these instances, the stem cuttings were treated with indolebutyric acid at 500 ppm in 50 percent alcohol from before.

Aside from these methods of propagation, it is also possible to graft karonda onto self-seedlings. In fact, this serves as an excellent rootstock for Carissa.

Constituents

Chemical analysis of the heavily branched root of karonda (Carissa carandas) has revealed that they enclose cardiac glycosides and salicylic acid, which when used internally result in a small drop in blood pressure. In addition, the roots of this plant also contain carissone, glucosides of odoroside, the D-glycoside of B-sitosterol, a terpenoid, carindone, ursolic acid as well as its methyl ester, lupeol, and a chemical called carinol that is a phenolic lignin. The leaves, fruits and bark of karonda enclose an alkaloid whose nature is yet to be identified.

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